Tiny Red Kitchen: Agave Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Yeah! I know! Sounds interesting as all get out right?
We are big carnivores around here but with all the information about animal cruelty, heart disease and the benefits of a vegan diet we do not eat a lot of meat. Of course soy is supposed to be bad for you too. And my much worshipped Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan probably are not into the super processed meat like soy stuff I lived on when I was a vegetarian long ago.

So.

What to eat on the nights when meat of any kind ain't on the menu?

Vegetables?

Blech. (Was that out loud?)


I have been perusing a few vegan cookbooks and trying some dishes. My husband and little girls will eat what I place before him which is a gift and makes our dinner table an excellent proving ground.

So I made Tal Ronnen's Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potatoes. I found this recipe in his book "The Conscious Cook" His book if for folks who already love to cook, so if that isn't you, maybe check it out at the library first. If I don't still have it. I have checked it out twice and renewed it once both times....if it was rent to own it would be ALLLL MINE. I made his AMAZING cashew cream to sub in for dairy...it was awesome and we all snarfed down his Corn Chowder recipe that used it. I had to use up the rest, voila this little baby.

I didn't grill the tofu because I am too lazy to fire up the grill and too frugal to buy a grill pan. I just popped it under the broiler for a bit, maybe not as good, but Lazy Mama was satisfied. I also have NO IDEA what Shoyu soy sauce does differently so I didn't buy that either. I use Bragg's Amino Acids in lieu of soy sauce. I cannot tell the difference plus it is better for me. I was bummed to only use one chipotle out of a can, now I have to google recipes for the rest of 'em.
Here is the marinade happening.

And the mashed taters. I rarely peel potatoes so that was a bummer, I could tell it needed to happen here.


Lazy frugality continues with the slaw...I used (Hi Dad!) BROCCOLI SLAW (I often make fun of my Dad when speaking and his lust for broccoli slaw.) and just tossed it with the dressing. I figured it would be interesting and healthy and I wouldn't be chopping up a bunch of stuff. My version of "julienne" looks more like "Lincoln Log" so I was pleased to pass on that part of the dish.


We were all pretty happy with the results. It wasn't as pretty as in the book, but is it ever?

And we were still hungry afterwards. I didn't dish out all the food but the girls split one portion and I was trying to obey serving size for a change. It was nice to not feel full, to have energy after dinner. But. We did have to make some popcorn. And when I say had to, I mean in the way of fatter folks who have to munch more to be satisfied. All you trim folk would have probably been just fine.

It was a great culinary adventure and even the kidlets got prettified plates.


Tell me what your best and worst cooking substitutions were, and what your stance on tofu is in the comments below! Your comment makes my DAY!

I Love the Moments In Between


My tea mug is empty. I am hoping Portia isn't around the corner emptying hers into tiny plastic play tea set cups. The baby is still napping, sick today, yesterday, all week with a nasty cold. I remain jealous she is getting all the sleep she wants whereas I am on day eight of limited sleep. I am not nice to be around without my eight hours.

But I have freedom. I can wander through this day in any way I wish. These days with two tinies at home and me here to watch them grow are precious. I do run screaming from the house at times. Motherhood is a wonderful horrible irreplaceable joy for me. Even when it is really, really, really hard.


I smile because I know I am blessed. I know my daughters are lovely and living well as they grow and change and challenge me.

I managed to change Portia's nasty pull up without yelling at her about how she knows poop goes IN THE POTTY. I am proud of myself just for not yelling; I never claim rights to Mother of the Year.

And I stayed peaceful as I sat in our two by three foot bathroom floor to change the little one's nasty dipe too. My reward for this peace, this choice to just roll with it was BIG.

The moments in between the daily chaos and laughter and tears and diaper changes are BIG.


BIG.

Libby took four steps. Her face lit up with the realization she has never done this before. This walking. This portal into freedom and much much more fun than she can have scootching on her bottom to travel room to room.

Within a few minutes she was laying with her cheek against the cool wood floor more than ready for her nap. I imagine her thinking "This freedom is tiring".

Don't I know it, I think.

NOTE: This was inspired by Extraordinary Ordinary "Just Write", why don't you give it a try?

Haiku Challenge Friday


Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
because
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Choose to be grateful
and you life will be greater
try it and you'll see!

Your three words are: Choose, grateful, try

Let's hear your haiku!

Who Suffered for You to Have That Stuff?

The title might give away this post as less than touchy feely, or perhaps more so. (No, I am not talking about Jesus, though He is especially fond of you.) I had a whacked out dream last night, have gotten out of bed and staggered down here to write about it.

Yeah, I bet you want a picture of how hot I might be right now.

I.

Bet.


Seriously, this is me too early in the morning, sans the hot black stuff, no shower and before I am awake enough to be photographed. You asked for it.

Anyway, I recently read the book "Working in the Shadows" by Gabriel Thompson
about the jobs most Americans won't do; lettuce harvesting, poultry processing and delivering flowers and food in a big city. I am sure that is part of where this dream came from, my poor pea brain still trying to process it. This book helped me understand why people who work HARD and LONG hours just have nothing left at the end of a day. Nothing for themselves, for their kids, or to make more out of their future. It broke my heart.

I worked in a factory for a time, but it was what I called a "Princess Factory". It was well lit, we got breaks, listened to music, joked around with each other and the work in my area was super easy: feeding rolls of film (remember? Before digital cameras???) into a big machine and making sure they were 'spliced'. My gal pals and I called ourselves The Splice Girls. Yup. Pretty clever.


In my dream I was in a large building and Jillian Michaels (Biggest Loser trainer, just in case you live under a rock) had sort of taken it over. She rounded up everyone and it was kind of like she might kill us all. It was WEIRD. Of course, for all the Biggest Loser I have watched, I can see why I thought she might kill us. (I love to hate her during a Biggest Loser DVD workout! I am missing her this season and not even watching, tho I loooove Bob too.) I was inspired by her yelling and more recently her story of why she left Biggest Loser. But I was deeply afraid of her in the dream.

She ran us through the halls and then up some stairs, most of us were seriously confused and inappropriately dressed. I tried to call out to some oblivious folks hanging out as we passed by, "Jillian Michaels has taken us hostage! Help!" Only later to find they were all in on it helping her. For a minute I thought I was going to be thrown out for trying to get help, but then strangely relieved I was still "in" and I told her so. She said "That person on the show, that isn't me, THIS is ME." And our next place was a paint shop in the bottom of whatever the building was. It was about fifty people in a communal live and work environment, painting what looked like Legos. (This is NOT any kind of commentary or speculation on Legos or their paint, so Legos please do not sue me for my subconscious weirdness. I don't think they are painted anyway I think the plastic is colored.)

Jillian talked about the people we were seeing, that the paint they used was so toxic it created memory loss after just a few days or weeks of working with it. That is why they lived there too, to offer them 'support' as their lives changed. Jillian asked us to talk with some of the people, to look carefully at the work they were doing and not breathe in too deeply.

I remember feeling sick and mortified at their bland responses as a few of us asked them questions. One girl in our 'hostages' crowd began to totally freak out and threatened to kill all of us or herself over it. Extreme, but probably part of why when I woke up right here in the dream from my sweet daughter's coughing. I staggered down here in the dark at six a.m. to type.

I think part of me is the screaming woman, horrified at how I want to live and who I don't think of that provides that living for me. I immediately prayed to God about squelching my desire for shiny crappy things someone else worked too hard to make and in poor conditions. I do not think about that often. After this dream, I will be thinking about it a lot more.

Toxic Paint.

Overseas Sweat Shops, Cheap labor for cheap products.

My deeply American desire for LOTS of things big, new and shiny: as long as they are also inexpensive.

I do not want to admit this. I do not want to face this in myself. I do not know what to do to make a difference.

Ideas?

Mothers Voices Blog: Nightmare After Midnight

C'mon over to the Mother's Voices blog for "Mothers and More" my uber awesome Mama group. I am blogging there today on what a sweet horrid mama I am in the middle of the night. Really. Don't believe me...you shouldn't. Hear the REAL TRUTH here.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: A Good Measure & Pear Budget



I am in love with the book "Organized Simplicity" by Tsh Oxenrider and I am pretty sure I raved about it before. At least once. She lives they way we love but has better tools.

One We started using even though we adored www.sparksavings.com for budgeting is Pear Budget. We moved all our pennies there to track for 2012 and we will see if over time it isn't much better for us. If you want to live simply, join us there.


Then I also found the Pear Budget gang's poetry blog A Good Measure. Not really my thing but I started reading and got hooked. Plus a little culture amidst the sippy cups does a girl good.

I would like to hear your thoughts pro or con for metered or money blogs here! LOL!

Haiku Challenge Friday


Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
because
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Netflix keeps my bum
rooted upon the sofa
ROKU I love you!

Your three words are: Netflix, upon, you

Let's hear your haiku!

Tiny Red Kitchen: Granola Girl Review

Oh. My. Sweet. Lord.

I like granola like everyone else, on top of yogurt, drenched in milk, as a snack or breakfast or because the sun is shining.

The day THIS was left on my porch I heard birds sing once again.

Now let me say Liz is a casual friend. We run into each other all over downtown Valparaiso and we laugh about how we don't actually hang out on purpose but our girls like each other and we cannot stop chatting when we do collide at Blackbird Cafe, Central Park Plaza, the playground. And she did give me this package of granola for my delight and to review, so essentially I was paid about a million dollars to do the review. Yup, it is that good.


Even though I just enjoyed pancakes and maple syrup with Greek Yogurt for brekkie...and had in fact JUST washed up the dishes from said brekkie...I still poured a bit of Granola Girl granola into a bowl.

My daughter Portia and I settled into a dining room chair and pinched up the first bite of this fragrant and gorgeous granola.



It was the best I have ever had. I have eaten Nature Valley, Naked, Quaker, Kashi and that fine bit of faux granola that comes with a McDonald's yogurt parfait.



THIS redefined granola for me.

Each flake of oatmeal was covered in a sheen of maple and brown sugar. Sweeter than I should indulge in, but who cares! The pecans were obviously toasted, the golden raisins plump and pretty, and the hint of Cardamom (!!! brilliant!)

or maybe the Love (Again, brilliant!) just combined to be a perfect granola for breakfast or a snack or even dessert. I like that it is organic, lots of local ingredients and made by a woman I can smile at in my own town. It is $12 for a one pound bag. That is not cheap, but it is neither cheaply made nor cheap tasting. When you want the little moments of your life to be special, this kind of granola does it for you. (And is still MUCH cheaper than breakfast out somewhere!)

I asked my husband to sample it too. He said it was really good, and when I asked if it was the best he had ever tasted he said "It ranks up there, but you have to remember, my Mom raised me on all that stuff. And my Aunt and Uncle were Hippies, so I have eaten it(granola) a lot!"

We ate it again for breakfast the next day on top of Greek yogurt. REALLY GOOD. The only thing I could complain about is there is not a serving size, calorie count (not sure I wanna know) etc. on the package. When I sin, I want to know about it...and this Granola Girl granola is so good it has to be a sin.

You can find her on Facebook where you will unfortunately learn she also makes marshmallows. You buy it downtown Valparaiso at Blackbird Cafe for a meal, Lifestyles gift shop and online at Etsy. I am pretty sure you can find it a few other places too, and trust me, you will be looking for it!

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Life In Grace


I found this WONDERFUL woman Edie
via beautiful Stacey at 29 Lincoln Avenue blog. I went there for a makeup tutorial and for all I know she might talk about crockpotting children in the rest of her posts but I fell in love with her AND plan to go bankrupt at the MAC counter next chance I get away from the littles around here.

I just got a Sephora makeover and bought new expensive makeup I have started wearing almost daily and feel like one million dollars *pinky to corner of eveiiiil grin*! I saw a few more goodies from MAC to add to my repertoire as soon as I have the lettuce to buy them. After a certain age(40), makeup and jewelry do A LOT to brighten up a girl(ME)(YOU TOO).

At any rate, "Life In Grace: Living a Life We Don't Deserve" looks like a grand place to spend some time and Edie was gorgeous and probably southern and a lot of fun to read....and she even did a video tutorial that was fun too. ENJOY!

Haiku Challenge Friday


Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
because
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

JWoww is deadly
reality TV kills
(brain cells, anyway)

Your three words are: reality, kills, is

Let's hear your haiku!

So You Think You Are Important?

Sometimes I think I am pretty important. I spend my days with two Tiny Girls who think THEY are pretty important. Sometimes this causes a bit of a conflict and I'm not sure who whines the loudest about it. If you want to see just how messed up you are and how out of control of life you can be, have a few kids. Every flaw is exposed as you try to raise them to be good folks: "Don't talk with your mouth full" quickly proved to me that I myself need to be taught this lesson. FAST. Do you know how hard it is to tell your toddler not to talk with their mouth full when your mouth is in fact full of food??? Selfish power struggles with a toddler while an infant cries can drive the strongest Mama straight into the potato ship bag headfirst. Stay at home mamas don't get overweight from having children, it is from trying to raise their children!

I have struggled to maintain the peace and raise my girls well over the past few months but the stress of my days often means by the end of each one I am not the sweetest woman to be around. I often hurl the myriad challenges of my day at my husband as soon as he walks through the door. Sometimes dinner isn't made and the house looks like a toy bomb went off. Even thought he

A recent church service I attended had one point I have carried with me through the week; Meet others needs even when mine aren't met. Our natural inclination is to under serve others if our needs aren't met. To not bother helping someone else when we are so tired, worn out and used up from daily life. Instead, look to serve someone who needs a little help. This will get the focus off of yourself and onto the good you create for someone else.

This is not to say we don't need to take care of ourselves. We do. But maybe instead of focusing on where our life is lacking, instead of complaining about all the little deaths within our days we can fill ourselves up by serving someone else.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: IMOM (& Secret Tool for Kids you can steal!)

Like most blogs I fell on this one somehow and since I devour their quick dailies I thought it was about time I shared.

iMOM blog offers a few sentences of APPLICABLE parenting and relationship brilliance every day.

They also have creative and pretty print outs (they call 'em TOOLS) for most useful things: chore lists, conversation starters, organization, behavior contracts, relationship deepeners.

I like ACTION and LISTS and these folks give me that in a nutshell.
Their "You Can Do It" chart for a week, a month or 100 Days is designed for kidlets, but wouldn't it be great for those pesky New Year's Resolutions????

Check them out and please comment about what you think. I haven't gotten to read everything they have written yet.....so share what you find so we do not miss it, OKAY? Your comments make my DAY!

Haiku Challenge Friday


Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
because
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

a simple lifestyle
should avoid resolutions
so I tell myself.

Your three words are: simple, resolutions, I

Let's hear your haiku!

Using Stink to Your Advantage: Aromatherapy for the Clueless


Have you ever wanted to learn about essential oils and aromatherapy? Do you like good stink but have started to hear scented candles, perfumes and air fresheners that are EVERYWHWERE now are not so great for you and your family? Is anyone in your life struggling with allergies or asthma so you cannot use fragrance around them? Do you prefer a more green and natural approach to every other aspect in your lives? Cue aromatherapy music. (It sounds like Enya and Adele at the same time.)

This post was inspired by Meagan at Sorta Crunchy blog for Simple Organic's phenomenal blog. You see, I can be a bit longwinded in the word department via my mouth or my fingers! I realized a comment I made on this awesome post a while ago really should be a whole post in itself. So it is.

I have enjoyed using essential oils ever since an old co-worker and friend Leah Banicki introduced her stash and books about it to me. We sold production music for TV and Film and shared a little office that was made warmer and happier with some good stink. I bought my first sampler kit of essential oils (Grapefruit, Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint, Geranium, and Eucalyptus) for about $30 from "A Natural Hi" store owned by Valkyrie Lang.

It is so wonderful to use essential oils for aromatherapy. They actually change your mood, health, focus depending on their application. Essential Oils can be cheap (about $3 for Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit) or expensive ($20 for Frankincense) Oh Frankincense...one day you will be mine! (No wonder it was a rich gift for Jesus.)

Here are some easy ways to use oils. You can always buy them straight or in preparations if you do not want to make things with them yourself. If you want to start small I would suggest Lavender and Eucalyptus at least. Then add Grapefruit, Peppermint, Rosemary...and whatever suits your needs. I got two AWESOME books for Christmas two years ago from my family. Either one would be a great start or browse your local bookstore to see what appeals to your senses.

"Aromatherapy A-Z" by Connie and Alan Higley with Pat Leatham is a great quick reference for what ails you. The book covers basic facts, application and uses of Essential Oils.

"The Aromotherapy Bible" by Gill Farrer-Halls you can find here. It goes into depth of the uses for a large variety of over fifty Essential Oils and included recipes for perfume, skin cream and cleansers, romantic massage oils, etc. I learned a lot form both books even after using oils for several years.

Here are a few ways I use my Essential Oils. I am DELIGHTED to get you away from crappy chemical candles and room 'fresheners,' so feel free to email me with questions...if you live close I might even make you a batch of something!

Inhalation
I drip a few drops of grapefruit essential oil into an oil diffuser or just whiff from the bottle to lift my mood. Eucalyptus and or Peppermint oil on the floor of a hot steamy shower helps clear out sinuses and congestion from colds. I put drops of Eucalyptus on the baby's crib mattress when she has a cold too. More natural aids for them babies from Simple Organic Here.

Tincture
This is a fancy word meaning I mix essential oil with olive, grapeseed or sweet almond oil. Olive oil works fine for me because it is cheap and I am lazy. My toddler is learning a bit: She knows "Boo Boo Juice" goes on bumps & bruises. (Lemongrass & Geranium in olive oil SERIOUSLY handles potential goose eggs & reduces or removes bruising...CRAZY! I keep it on hand for toddler biffs.

Diffuser

They come in a variety of forms; ceramic burners with a bowl above and a tea light below, a cigarette outlet jobber for your car, plug ins (not Glade, the ones for essential oils!)or even just oils put on a tissue and inhaled...the high end "kleenex diffuser" I was using my oil diffuser yesterday with eucalyptus, tee tree and lavender for their my babies' little colds....I LIKE the idea of a massage oil for it but we haven't really done that. Diffusing is a GREAT way to fragrance your home without the nasty chemicals, headaches and allergic reaction you might get from candles, reed diffusers, fragrance plug ins etc. UNLESS they are made with 100% Essential Oils, not to be confused with fragrance oils which can still be chemical based. For natural and energizing stink, only use ESSENTIAL OILS!

Massage
Of course this is one of the yummiest, right now we use lavender & olive oil post baths. We have massaged both girls form first bath to the present with just this. I know there are commercial "better sleep" bath and lotions products, but the chemical makeup is not truly benefitting your family the way your own purchased or homemade things can.

Cleanser
Wanna natural and cheap and YUMMY way to wash your face? Try the Oil Cleansing Method! I use this to remove my eye makeup even if I use a wrinkle reducing eye bag hiding sallow splotchy skin hiding commercial cleanser on my face. I do still do oil cleansing a few times a week because it feels so luxurious on my dry winter skin.

Home Cleaning Products
I haven't bought a home cleaning product since having my first baby three years ago! I clean almost everything with vinegar and essential oils. Tee Tree Oil is a powerhouse for anti bacterial uses and then I throw a bunch of something delicious like Grapefruit or Lavender or Pine to cover the vinegar smell and make the room feel inviting and clean in a non chemical way. It is nice to not have my eyes water or worry about the kids touching the cleansers.

Perfume
You can mix oils and filtered water with a tiny bit of oil, maybe alcohol into a travel sized sprayer for your own perfumes. I lust after Aveda fragrances so you will find me combining Rose, Sandalwood, Jasmine etc endlessly trying to copy their famous fragrance based in Essential Oils. (Part of why their products are more expensive, real essential oils in them!)
NOTE to the person wanting a sprayer: Target's sample size sprayer in the travel toiletry section works great and is only one dollar. I have a perfume I made in one and the other one has lavender, filtered water and a tiny bit of olive or grapeseed oil. I keep it in the fridge for my face...SO REFRESHING.


This is not an exhaustive list, I have used oils for infertility, prayer, cuts, mosquito repellant, perfume, scalp massage, moisturizer, cleansers, bath spas, mood correction and jsut atmosphere. Like the yummy Pine and Rosemary I am burning now to forget we have a fake Christmas tree this year!

What ailments or fragrance uses would you be interested in trying first? I am happy to look up information for you to help get you started!

"Feeding Willard" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

NOTE: You can hear this on MP3 HERE.

Feeding Willard
By Heather Curlee Novak

This is how I was told to prepare for parenthood: Carve a one inch circular hole into a pumpkin, tie it to a rope hanging from your ceiling & start swinging it. Take applesauce on a spoon and try to stuff as much of it as possible into the moving target or else it will scream. Tada! Feeding our daughter isn’t that bad most days, but I learned a whole new sense of appreciation for it when My Uncle Frank visited us from Colorado.

Uncle Frank spent a great deal of his daily free time for years caring for my Grandfather. Frank would feed Grandpa Willard at least one meal most days. They would go to restaurants where Grandpa would drink too much and fall asleep before eating much of whatever it was he really liked that day. The whole excursion would take hours because Grandpa Willard was wheelchair bound and needed a special shuttle to travel anywhere. Despite all the trouble to arrange transportation, nurses and equipment Uncle Frank made sure Grandpa also got to his Dreamland cabin in the rocky mountains once or twice a year. He got him loaded onto a ferris wheel, to the opera, ball games and yes, to many, many restaurants. My Uncle took exquisite loving care of him for about eight years before Grandpa Willard died this Spring.

When Uncle Frank was here visiting he fed our six month old Portia several meals and shared how similar it was to feeding Willard. Her eager anticipation evident in the banging of her little palms on the highchair tray. How she would grin and then open her mouth like a baby bird lunging towards the spoon. Frank said Grandpa Willard ate his meals with the same zeal most days. Frank scraped dribbled food from Portia’s chin, and his father’s too. Both of them had fairly soft, bland culinary options offered to them when they really seemed more interested in a big juicy steak.

As we talked about how similar feeding the baby and an old person was, we stumbled over the meaning of life. Or at least one of them. The meaning of life can be found in eating, consuming, devouring. And not just food. Every one of us needs to eat in order to survive, but there is so much more.

We consume energy, knowledge, time, space, experience and love. We make and use energy doing normal everyday tasks like getting out of bed or turning on the coffeepot. We devour books and words and moments that teach us new things. We drink mountain air and river water through our noses breathing deep breaths that sustain us. We thrive on experiences throughout our lives and become the people we are through having those things occur in front of us. We consume love and get drunk in the amorous cocoon we find ourselves in. We are in love with our lover, in love with our children, loving our friends and sometimes even ourselves when we let our guard down.

Sometimes, as in feeding Baby, the best part of the meal dribbles forgotten down our chin. Sometimes, as in feeding Willard, we get drunk on all the options of life, missing t

Tiny Red Kitchen: Ursuline's Kitchen Restaurant and Bacon & Garlic "Greens"

OK. So we have established I have a leetle tiny love affair with food. Right? This recipe is SO GOOD you might need a cigarette afterwards. Even if you do not smoke, haven't smoked in eight years....heck even if you have never smoked this might make it a first. The recipe ain't healthy so don't get all pious about your health right now. Trust me, it is as good as good....ummmmm adult quality time.


So the Hubs and I went on a romantic double date to a tiny restaurant in Merrillville Indiana called Ursuline's Kitchen. It is a fantastic French Cajun place we would NEVER have found if they hadn't offered a $25 gift certificate on www.restaraunt.com for $4! These coupons work best with more than two people dining, so we have been saving it. It was a small dark and handsome little place with mismatched linens and chairs and N'awlins music a'playin' in the background. The woman who served us was perfect...I wondered if she was Ursaline and uncharacteristically didn't have the gumption to ask her name...shame on me.

YOU MUST visit this place. The menu is short and rotates daily which I like. Have a desire for cajun or creole something specific? Call a head and ask for it to be on the menu...how is that for service?

We started out with the best crab cakes (actually several kinds of crab and little else...no fillers!)I chose blacked shrimp po'boy....even without sauce of any kind (I would prefer to have something....) it was AWESOME. Such flavor...mouth is watering and I just had this last night! Their dirty rice was tasty and the greens...which I didn't care about until I tasted them...well they sung me quite the love song. Our precious waitress responded to our rave review by telling us how to make them. They are on my stove. RIGHT. NOW. They taste just as good as the yum from last night. Yup I will tell you how I did it, from what she told me they did...and maybe....just maybe...

Thinly slice one red onion and half a head of cabbage. Saute and practically caramelize in a pan with olive oil and butter and garlic powder. Add in your greens. I used chard because I had it leftover. It needs to cook awhile so it really enjoyed this process. I made space in the middle of the pan to fry up three strips of bacon and used kitchen scissors to 'chop' it up into small bits when it was done. LOTS of garlic powder throughout the process, a little salt and pepper. Everything should be wilted and it probably should take 20-30 minutes.

Here it is waiting for me. I mean for my family. I could seriously eat the whole pan.

Dinner was supposed to be just Chicken Maribella from my FREE Cozi online calendar and dinner planner (what's up Fly Lady!)

But once this greens action happened, I also made AllRecipe's super simple chocolate pudding. I added in almond butter and a dash of cinnamon because I just couldn't stop myself.

BOY am I glad I didn't buy skinny jeans. Bring on the fat pants, it is DINNERTIME! Eat Up.